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Three to See: August

August 8th, 2016 Comments off

Summer heat in New York City is no joke. We’d almost rather sit through a revival of Mamma Mia! than suffer in the stench of Gotham at its worst. Fortunately, no such production exists… yet. But theatres are still fairly quiet. The New York Musical Festival wrapped up its 13th season and The New York International Fringe Festival (August 12-28) is about to get underway. But we suggest using those frequent flyer miles and getting out of dodge so this month’s picks cross state (and country) lines!

(l to r) Rachel York and Betty Buckley in 'Gray Gardens.' (Photo: Craig Schwartz via The Broadway Blog.)

(l to r) Rachel York and Betty Buckley in ‘Gray Gardens.’ (Photo: Craig Schwartz via The Broadway Blog.)

Grey Gardens
Who can forget Christine Ebersole and Mary Louise Wilson’s Tony Award-winning performances in Grey Gardens. You just may after seeing Rachel York and Betty Buckley take on the roles of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ most eccentric relatives. Their notorious recluse and fall from society (captured in the 1975 documentary by the same name) is newly restaged by director Michael Wilson at Center Theatre Group.

Grey Gardens
Center Theatre Group
135 North Grand Avenue, Los Angeles
Through August 14

Marriott Lincolnshire

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
There’s a reason why this musical about the rise of fictional character J. Pierrepont Finch up the corporate ladder is constantly revived. The musical won seven Tony awards and the Pulitzer Prize for drama. This fantastic score by Frank Loesser and book by Abe Burrows gets a theatre-in-the round (or square, in this case) interpretation at one of Chicago’s longstanding dinner theatres. Directed by Don Stephenson.

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Marriott Theatre
Ten Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire
Opening night: August 31

"The Naked Magicians" (Photo: London Theatre Direct via The Broadway Blog.)

“The Naked Magicians” (Photo: London Theatre Direct via The Broadway Blog.)

The Naked Magicians
Admittedly, we’re going below the belt for our third pick of the month, but hey—sometimes it’s nice to get a bit naughty. The show features magic, mirth and a touch of mayhem as these two hilarious Aussie magicians say abracadabra and take magic to a whole new level.

Stripping away the top hats and capes (and the rest of their attire as well), The Naked Magicians’ juicy magic is baffling and entertaining, bringing full frontal illusions and a new meaning to “now you see it…” Good magicians don’t need sleeves and great magicians don’t need pants. This show proves just that.

The Naked Magicians
Trafalgar Studios, London
Opening night: August 31

 

Excavating the American Dream: The New Group’s ‘Buried Child’

March 3rd, 2016 Comments off
(l to r) Paul Sparks, Ed Harris and Amy Madigan in 'Buried Child.' (Photo: Monique Carboni via The Broadway Blog.)

(l to r) Paul Sparks, Ed Harris and Amy Madigan in ‘Buried Child.’ (Photo: Monique Carboni via The Broadway Blog.)

It is not easy to watch The New Group’s revival of Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Buried Child. Originally produced in San Francisco, then New York City, in 1978, the play was later revived in 1996 on Broadway, earning accolades (the production was a transfer from Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre.) Now, a decade later, director Scott Elliott helms this complex work that tackles the disintegration of an American family during the agricultural and economic wasteland of the 1970s.

Ed Harris (four-time Academy Award nominee) and Amy Madigan (The Jacksonian, A Streetcar Named Desire) lead the cast in Shepard’s postmodern play that teeters on realism while weaving in surrealistic layerings of symbolism and purposefully repetitive passages of text. As the withering patriarch Dodge, Harris nails this delicate balance, as does Madigan, as his churchgoing wife, Halie, who functions in a world of the past while casting aside the horrific and incestuous happenings that undermine their children.

The sons, Tilden (Paul Sparks) and Bradley (Rich Sommer), reside at the family farmhouse, in a sort of hazy nonexistence. It’s only when Tilden’s son, Vince (Nat Wolff) shows up with his girlfriend Shelly (Taissa Farmiga) that the family quilt begins to quickly unravel. Without delivering any spoilers, let’s just say that the existing family unit is none too eager to welcome Vince back to the farm. And while he dashes off to buy booze for Dodge, his girlfriend’s inquisitive nature helps usher some skeletons out of the closet. Halie returns to the house with Father Dewis (Larry Pine) to find havoc in the household, and ultimately a tragic truth, deeply buried (both literally and figuratively), finally comes to light.

While Harris and Madigan are deft at navigating Shepard’s nuanced style, Wolff and Farmiga struggle to find their footing. Emotions are distilled to screaming and flippant rebuttals, leaving these integral characters as mere cut-outs against an in-depth backdrop.

This play won’t be everyone’s theatrical cup of tea. It’s uncomfortable subject matter and Shepard’s unforgiving delivery of it makes for a squeamish 90 minutes. But if you can take it, there’s something to unearth in Buried Child.

Here’s what other critics are saying:

“Directed by Scott Elliott and anchored by a deeply textured yet effortless performance by Ed Harris, the revival doesn’t strain for shock, emphasizing ordinary rather than grotesque aspects of its characters’ lives. . . I still want to see a bolder, more apocalyptic revival of this big (yet small) play, with a uniformly strong cast, knockout visuals and a directorial vision that finds more exciting ways to unlock the horror and madness at its core. Still, while this may not be the finest Buried Child you’ll see, the play only comes around every 20 years, and it’s worth a homecoming.” David Cote – Time Out New York

“Some of its shock value has worn off, but “Buried Child” (which has not been seen in New York in two decades) remains a gritty, mysterious, often engrossing portrait of domestic life gone to hell, as demonstrated by Scott Elliott’s well-acted Off-Broadway revival on behalf of the New Group.” Matt Windman – amNew York

“Harris’ unforced and potent performance in the New Group’s revival of Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer-winning 1978 drama makes this engaging but unevenly acted production worthwhile. . . Buried Child isn’t exactly subtle but it still grabs and sends shivers.” Joe Dziemianowicz – Daily News

Buried Child
Presented by The New Group
The Pershing Square Signature Center
480 West 42nd Street
Through April 3

Matthew Wexler is the Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on social media at @roodeloo

Review: ‘Marjorie Prime’ at Playwrights Horizons

December 21st, 2015 Comments off

by Samuel L. Leiter

(l to r) Lisa Emery, Noah Bean, and Lois Smith in 'Marjorie Prime.' (Photo: Jeremy Daniel via The Broadway Blog.)

(l to r) Lisa Emery, Noah Bean, and Lois Smith in ‘Marjorie Prime.’ (Photo: Jeremy Daniel via The Broadway Blog.)

Here’s one of many questions raised by Marjorie Prime—Jordan Harrison’s 2015 Pulitzer finalist play—about artificial intelligence. Assume it’s the year 2062, and technology has advanced so far that exact physical replicas of beloved dead folks can be created, allowing them to sooth the grieving hearts of those left behind. Moreover, while they can be brought back at any age one chooses, those who’ve obtained them need to provide all the memories required in order to maintain purposeful communication. Do you think you could tell such a creature everything it would need to know in order to convincingly replicate the person it represents? And could that being ever reciprocate with real feelings? But that’s one of many other questions.

In Marjorie Prime, Harrison confronts the emotional and psychological ramifications of what such intimate relationships between flesh and blood humans and technological humans might entail. The play introduces us to octogenarian Marjorie (played by octogenarian Lois Smith), born in 1977, a role she created for the play’s 2014 premiere at Los Angeles’s Mark Taper Forum. Marjorie, suffering from dementia but more or less still in command of her faculties, engages in pleasantries with a handsome, polite, but ever-so-slightly odd, 30-year-old man who, we discover, is the “prime” (a clone-like robot) of her late husband, Walter (Noah Bean). He’s been provided for her comfort by her tense, middle-aged daughter Tess (Lisa Emery) and Tess’s more grounded husband Jon (Stephen Root).

Lisa Emery and Stephen Root in 'Marjorie Prime.' (Photo: Jeremy Daniel via The Broadway Blog.)

Lisa Emery and Stephen Root in ‘Marjorie Prime.’ (Photo: Jeremy Daniel via The Broadway Blog.)

Walter shares memories, some of them uncertain, designed to comfort Marjorie in her declining years and keep her brain exercised; he also absorbs the memories that Marjorie feeds him so he can become ever more companionable. Tess has doubts about his usefulness; Jon believes his presence has great value, at least at first. Eventually, a prime of Marjorie herself, as she was before she died, but without her ailments, will serve Tess’s needs, and, when Tess is gone, Jon will have a prime of her. What happens to the primes themselves forms the most interesting scene in the play.

Futurism is barely noticeable in the show’s subtle look. The 80-minute production unfolds in a mint green and white, sparsely decorated, antiseptic open plan apartment (facility?), designed by Laura Jellinek. A large kitchen is upstage, a lone Lazy-Boy recliner (later replaced by a more stylish chair) is downstage, and there’s a sitting area. Jessica Pabst’s costumes look like what people wear today. Daniel Kluger’s chilly sound design and Ben Stanton’s evocative lighting create a sinister mood, especially during transitions, when furnishings are shifted almost invisibly. (For some reason, though, headphone-wearing stagehands do the job toward the end, damaging the illusion.)

Since there’s a general coolness to director Anne Kaufmann’s production, and the backstories of the characters aren’t particularly engrossing, the difference between the humans and the primes might have worked better if the characters were more down-to-earth or unusual than the superficial ones in the play. The musically voiced Smith offers in Marjorie a precise picture of an intelligent woman watching herself descend into physical and mental frailty. When she reappears as a prime, her appearance is better and spirit livelier, but there’s the same subtle artificiality about her as we saw in Walter as she seeks the knowledge required to fulfill her mission. Bean, who resembles a young David Bowie, makes a perfect human simulacrum, and Root and Emery do what they can with characters who seem more like attitudes than people.

Harrison wisely remains opaque about the androids’ technical details, forcing you to fill in the dots. His premise is wide open for speculation and debate; if you go with someone you’ll surely be talking about it afterward, regardless of how much the play itself did or didn’t dramatically satisfy you.

Marjorie Prime
Playwrights Horizons
416 West 42nd Street, NYC
Through January 24

Samuel L. Leiter is Distinguished Professor Emeritus (Theater) of Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, CUNY. He has written and/or edited 27 books on Japanese theater, New York theater, Shakespeare, and the great stage directors. For more of his reviews, visit Theatre’s Leiter Side (www.slleiter.blogspot.com).

Three to See: May

May 12th, 2015 Comments off

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You didn’t think we forgot about our monthly theater hotlist, did you? After more than a dozen productions opening last month, we had to catch our breath—but fear not. More curtains are rising this month. Here are the Broadway’s Blog’s picks:

An Act of GodAn Act of God
Not to be confused with Hand to God, this spring, God takes another form, this time starring four-time Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory).The one-act comedy follows the Almighty and His devoted angels as they answer some of the deepest questions that have plagued mankind since Creation. He’s finally arrived to set the record straight… and He’s not holding back. Based on the critically acclaimed book The Last Testament: A Memoir by God, this new play was written by 13-time Emmy Award winner David Javerbaum (“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”) and is directed by two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello (Wicked)

Studio 54
254 West 54th Street
Opening night: May 28
Through August 2

 

FLK_99r1_200Wx200HpxThe Flick
Annie Baker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play is set in a run-down movie theater in central Massachusetts, where three underpaid employees mop the floors and attend to one of the last 35-millimeter film projectors in the state. Their tiny battles and not-so-tiny heartbreaks play out in the empty aisles, becoming more gripping than the lackluster, second-run movies on screen. With keen insight and a finely tuned comic eye, The Flick is a hilarious and heart-rending cry for authenticity in a fast-changing world.

Barrow Street Theatre
27 Barrow Street
Opening night: May 28
Through August 30

 

EverAfter2_Homepage_940x432_1
Ever After

Who didn’t love the charming film by the same name starring Drew Barrymore and Anjelica Huston? Three-time Tony winner Kathleen Marshall puts her creative spin on this musical adapatation and it’s no fairy tale. Ever After sets the record straight on the fable of Cinderella. It was never about fairy godmothers, talking mice, or magic pumpkins. Her name was Danielle and it was always about her wit, her smarts, her strength, and her good friend Leonardo da Vinci. She makes her own dreams come true. Warm and romantic, funny and smart, this is the musical you’ve been waiting for. Starring Christine Ebersole (Grey Gardens), Charles Shaughnessy (The Nanny) and Margot Seibert (ROCKY).

Paper Mill Playhouse
22 Brookside Drive
Opening night: May 31
Through June 26

Matthew Wexler is The Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on TwitterFacebook and Instagram at roodeloo

Review: The Heidi Chronicles

April 6th, 2015 Comments off

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(l to r) Ali Ahn, Elisabeth Moss, and Elise Kibler in "The Heidi Chronicles" (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

(l to r) Ali Ahn, Elisabeth Moss, and Elise Kibler in “The Heidi Chronicles” (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

Before there was Candace Bushnell or Lena Dunham, there was Wendy Wasserstein. The Brooklyn-born, Ivy League graduate carved a niche in contemporary theater with her uncompromising explorations of women, beginning with her Yale graduate thesis, Uncommon Women and Others. She revisited those themes in a more expansive capacity in The Heidi Chronicles, now receiving a respectable Broadway revival starring Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss, Jason Biggs (American Pie), and Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder).

Elisabeth Moss in "The Heidi Chronicles" (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

Elisabeth Moss in “The Heidi Chronicles” (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

The Heidi Chronicles won both the 1989 Tony Award for best play as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and it’s clear why. Heidi Holland’s chronological journey from a wallflower at a high school dance to single mom in the modern world is one layered with a multitude of themes. As an art history student with feminist leanings, Heidi’s life experiences are framed through the works of seminal (yet mostly unknown because of their gender) female painters. This heavily researched through line colors the play in fascinatingly subtle ways, much like the works themselves, and is exhibited as a series of slides on John Lee Beatty’s ever-transforming set.

Over the years Heidi navigates her relationships with varying degrees of success, including those with her longtime friend Peter (Bryce Pinkham) and on-again-off-again boyfriend Scoop (Jason Biggs). She is often caught at the crossroads with the dual desires of wanting an intimate relationship and struggling to find her place in a society where women’s roles are rapidly changing. This dramatic tension—sometimes as nuanced as a sigh or pause by Moss—is what breathes life into Wasserstein’s play.

Elisabeth Moss doesn’t tackle Heidi so much as warmly envelope the character with quirky humanity and humor. Complexly written, Moss is able to navigate Heidi’s journey with great dexterity, culminating in a speech delivered at an alumnae luncheon where the years of personal and societal expectation finally crumble. It is both humorous and devastating as Heidi discovers the simple fact that she’s just not happy. “It’s just that I feel stranded,” she says. “And I thought the whole point was that we wouldn’t feel stranded. I thought the point was we were all in this together.”

(l to r) Tracee Chimo, Leighton Bryan, and Elise Kibler in "The Heidi Chronicles" (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

(l to r) Tracee Chimo, Leighton Bryan, and Elise Kibler in “The Heidi Chronicles” (photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

The men in Heidi’s life struggle with their own intimacy issues. For her best friend, Peter, it’s coming to terms with his homosexuality and the dark shadows of the impending AIDS crisis. Bryce Pinkham approaches the role with odd affectation, but within those vocal inflections and stilted body movements, he discovers an unconventional authenticity.

Jason Biggs is less successful as Heidi’s lingering romantic interest. Their chemistry, which sparks at a 1968 Eugene McCarthy dance, doesn’t seem to evolve over the years and one wonders what keeps these two drawn to each other. The play, which runs more than two-and-a-half hours and culminates with their denouement is a slight fizzle to an otherwise effervescent evening.

As for the ensemble of women (Ali Ahn, Leighton Bryan, Tracee Chimo and Elise Kibler) who comprise Heidi’s friends and colleagues through the years—they are a painter’s palette whose sum of the parts creates indelible images of a woman’s journey through the last part of the 20th century. Both historical and relevant, their struggles with self-worth, motherhood, success and happiness are chronicles worth revisiting.

The Heidi Chronicles
Music Box Theatre
239 West 45th Street

Matthew Wexler is The Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on TwitterFacebook and Instagram at roodeloo

Review: The Invisible Hand

December 16th, 2014 Comments off

by Samuel Leiter

A scene from 'The Invisible Hand' (photo by Jery Naunheim Jr. courtesy of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.)

A scene from ‘The Invisible Hand’ (photo by Jery Naunheim Jr. courtesy of The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.)

Compared to what probably goes on in actual bunkers where kidnapped victims of Muslim extremists are kept in an effort to extract ransom from their families or governments, the conditions depicted in Ayad Akhtar’s gripping The Invisible Hand seem downright cozy. Yes, the protagonist, an American banker named Nick Bright (Justin Kirk), is usually handcuffed (and later footcuffed), and yes, he’s often screamed at and humiliated. Nonetheless, his sometimes threatening, sometimes palsy Pakistani captors don’t physically torture him; when the possibility of beheading is raised, these guys say that, if the need arises, they’ll farm out the job to a group they refer to as “animals.” They disdain being called terrorists, declare that the Taliban hates them, and profess to have socially positive goals (water, roads, schools, etc.) for their people. So friendly does the relationship become between Nick and his assigned captor, Bashir (Usman Ally), that they even engage in boyish chatter about which of the girls in the comic book Archie is sexier, Veronica or Betty.

If this sounds implausible, how about the central premise? Nick—mistakenly snatched instead of his boss—convinces his dangerously passive-aggressive abductors to let him use his outstanding stock trading skills by raising the millions they demand from Citibank before they’ll let him go. Farfetched as this seems on paper, Akhtar, through his believable characters and dialogue, creates a world in whose monetary machinations you find yourself acquiescing while remaining absorbed in Nick’s ultimate fate. Along the way, though, Akhtar provides so much background on economic theory and practice that the play only narrowly escapes the peril of morphing into a lesson on global financial practices. The title, in fact, comes from Adam Smith’s 18th century treatise, The Wealth of Nations, where, as Nick explains it: “The free market is guided by the confluence and conflict of everyone’s self-interest, like an invisible hand moving the market . . .” Greed is another word for self-interest, and it spreads like cancer even among the holier than thou.

invisible2Akhtar, whose Pulitzer Prize play, Disgraced, is presently on Broadway, reveals with The Invisible Hand that he’s no flash in the playwriting pan. He produces powerful dramatic situations from topical material and then creates ironically pointed twists and turns, with deft humor seasoning the atmosphere. Akhtar’s villains here are human beings, not stereotypes, and, while we may disagree with their actions, we’re absorbed by the clash of their ideas with those of their prisoner.

Most fascinating is the London-raised and Cockney-accented Bashir, an angry bloke whose initial ignorance of market methods is quickly overcome when—using a computer under Nick’s guidance—he becomes obsessed by his newly acquired monetary power. Bashir’s potentially violent temperament, combined with his knowledge of history and his newfound economic skills, make him a magnetic figure. Usman Ally’s seething intensity in the role is matched by Justin Kirk’s astuteness and desperation as the cash cow detainee. Dariush Kashani’s Imam Saleem, the religious leader in charge of the operation, has a pious dignity that sheathes a deadly ruthlessness made all the more frightening by being understated. Jameal Ali is Dar, the subservient guard Nick teaches how to profit from his potato harvest; the scene in which he must carry out a brutal order is a chilling highlight.

Ken Rus Schmidt’s taut direction—aided by Leah Gelpe’s brilliant percussive sound design—keeps the tension high throughout the play’s two hours. Set designer Riccardo Hernandez has provided two large prison cells, one of bare concrete, the other with tall metal walls under a shiny corrugated ceiling that hangs low over the audience early in the play and then rises to the rafters for Act 2. Finally, distinctive lighting by Tyler Micoleau and convincing costumes by ESOSA help bring The Invisible Hand to very visible life.

The Invisible Hand
New York Theatre Workshop
79 E. 4th Street, NYC
Through January 4

Samuel L. Leiter is Distinguished Professor Emeritus (Theater) of Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, CUNY. He has written and/or edited 27 books on Japanese theater, New York theater, Shakespeare, and the great stage directors. For more of his reviews, visit Theatre’s Leiter Side (www.slleiter.blogspot.com).

 

 

 

Pulitzer Fest at Labyrinth Theater Company

March 20th, 2014 Comments off
The original Playbill from "Our Town" (photo: Playbill Vault) via The Broadway Blog.

The original Playbill from “Our Town” (photo: Playbill Vault) via The Broadway Blog.

Labyrinth Theater Company (Artistic Director Mimi O’Donnell, Managing Director Danny Feldman), the award-winning, downtown ensemble, announced today the initial lineup for Pulitzer Fest, a festival of play readings celebrating Pulitzer Prize-winning plays, featuring Labyrinth Theater Company Members and Guest Artists. Five plays will be presented over the course of one week, followed by additional free play readings on the weekend. The weekend schedule will be announced later this month. A post-show discussion with the playwright and a guest moderator will follow select readings for weekday performances. The plays will be presented at Labyrinth’s home in New York City’s West Village, the Bank Street Theater (155 Bank Street).

“Pulitzer Fest gives us the chance to honor and pay tribute to these compelling award-winning plays. Audiences will have a chance to celebrate and discover, or re-discover, these plays throughout the festival performed by Labyrinth’s diverse company members and guest artists,” says Danny Feldman, Managing Director of Labyrinth Theater Company.

The original Playbill from "I Am My Own Wife" (photo: Playbill Vault) via The Broadway Blog.

The original Playbill from “I Am My Own Wife” (photo: Playbill Vault) via The Broadway Blog.

Labyrinth Theater is devoted to creating affordable and accessible theater experiences for all. From April 7th through April 11th, tickets start at $20 for each performance. On Saturday, April 12th and Sunday, April 13th, free tickets will be available for all readings 90 minutes prior to each reading at the Bank Street Theater Box Office. A select number of $10 Priority Passes will be available for all weekend readings allowing front of line access and advanced seat reservation (maximum two per person per reading). More information is available on www.labtheater.org.

Each purchased ticket includes a complimentary beer courtesy of Sixpoint Brewery.

The plays include:

Topdog/Underdog
written and directed by Suzan-Lori Parks
Monday, April 7 at 8pm

I Am My Own Wife
by Doug Wright
with Eric Bogosian
Tuesday, April 8 at 8pm 

Ruined
by Lynn Nottage
with members of the original cast
Wednesday, April 9 at 8pm

Ellen Burstyn (photo: Playbill Vault) via The Broadway Blog.

Ellen Burstyn (photo: Playbill Vault) via The Broadway Blog.

Driving Miss Daisy
by Alfred Uhry
directed by John Gould Rubin
with Ellen Burstyn and Isaiah Whitlock, Jr.
Thursday, April 10 at 8pm 

Our Town
by Thornton Wilder
with Portia, Scott Hudson, Russell G. Jones, Daphne Rubin-Vega,
David Zayas, and Liza Colon-Zayas
Friday, April 11 at 8pm
Saturday, April 12 and Sunday, April 13

More plays to be announced. Check www.labtheater.org for details.

Let’s Make a Deal: New York Theater on the Cheap

January 21st, 2013 Comments off

Your wish for discount theater tickets really can come true. (Kristin Chenoweth in the original Broadway production of "Wicked." Photo: Joan Marcus)

Even the most die-hard theatergoer cannot afford to see a show as often as he or she would like. With the top ticket price clocking in at $135.50, and premium seats soaring even higher, being a Broadway fan may be the best fad diet in town. Nobody should have to choose between a classic New York pizza and slice of cheesecake and a chorus of svelte dancers spinning triple pirouettes.

Fortunately, nycgo.com has come to the rescue, offering 2-for-1 Broadway seats from Jan. 22 – Feb. 7. While not every show is available (those boys at Book of Mormon are still at capacity,) there are a surprising number of great shows participating, including “Wicked”, “Jersey Boys” and the much talked about production of “Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella”.

You can also upgrade your ticket for an additional $20 per person, which will get you out of the rear balcony and into orchestra or mezzanine.

The Great White Way isn’t the only place where bargains can be found. Off Broadway is offering the same 2-for-1 deal from Jan. 28 – Feb. 10. Seeing an Off Broadway show is a great way to have a more intimate theatrical experience. And these days, some productions that originated on Broadway, like the Tony award-winning “Avenue Q,” are now in Off Broadway theaters. You can also catch edgier works like “BARE: The Musical,” “My Name is Asher Lev,” and the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Water by the Spoonful.”

The cast of "Water by the Spoonful." (Photo: Richard Termine)

If you can’t make up your mind or pull it together in time to order tickets in advance, I’ve got one more option for you: 20at20. From Jan. 22 – Feb. 10, simply show up at the box office 20 minutes before curtain at a participating Off Broadway theater and request a “20at20” ticket. If available (yes, these shows will sell out so there is a risk factor to save a few bucks) you’ll have a good chance of snagging a $20 seat.

Whichever option you choose, winter can be the best time to enjoy live theater in New York City. And I want to know what you’re seeing! Visit The Broadway Blog’s Facebook page and tell us if the show you saw belongs on the discount rack or if you’ve discovered a hidden gem.

 

TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE: “Virginia Woolf” & “Cyrano”

October 18th, 2012 Comments off

There were two big Broadway openings in the last week and just because I haven’t had a chance to see them, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t! Let’s see what the critics have to say:

Tracy Letts, Amy Morton, Madison Dirks & Carrie Coons in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf". Photo by Michael Brosilow.

WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF

In celebration of its fiftieth anniversary, the Edward Albee classic of marital gamesmanship returns to Broadway in a blistering Steppenwolf production starring Amy Morton (August: Osage County) and Tracy Letts (Pulitzer-winning playwright of August:Osage County).

“…the soul ache this superlative staging leaves behind is accompanied by a feeling far more emotionally enriching: the exhilaration of a fresh encounter with a great work of theater revitalized anew.” New York Times

“The story, in which two married couples share a boozy, increasingly unhinged night, has lost none of its power to keep an audience on edge.” New York Post

“These are both exciting, rich performances, and while they capture a different dynamic, they get the game-playing nature of Albee’s dialogue just right…” Variety

“In Letts’ and Morton’s capable hands, George and Martha emerge as historic icons, America’s first couple of passive-aggressive dysfunction.” Entertainment Weekly

Mizer’s Two Cents: I haven’t made it to the Broadway staging but I saw this production (with this same cast) when it was at the Arena Stage last year; I was astonished and riveted. Judging by the reviews, this sensational revival of a true American classic is still firing on all blazing cylinders.

Read more…

TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE: “Nice Work” & “Clybourne Park”

April 24th, 2012 Comments off

I hope you’ve been pacing yourself because the tsunami of Broadway openings continues through the end of the week. (Maybe I’m crazy but wouldn’t a show get a lot more free publicity and buzz if it opened in a less packed couple weeks? Just saying…) Today, we’re looking at two new shows inspired by old material.

Kelli O'Hara & Matthew Broderick in "Nice Work If You Can Get It". Photo by Joan Marcus.

NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET

Acclaimed director/choreographer Kathleen Marshall (Anything Goes) whips up a Gershwin confection about a boozy playboy and a tough gal bootlegger starring Matthew Broderick and Kelli O’Hara.

“…a shiny, dutiful trickle of jokes and dance numbers performed by talented people who don’t entirely connect with the whimsy of a bygone genre.” New York Times

“…the primo supporting cast is talented enough to sell it all.” New York Post

“A bulging box of musical-theater candy.” Hollywood Reporter

“But director/choreographer Kathleen Marshall and a stellar cast ensure that the show is as charming in execution as it is disheartening in theory.” USA Today

Read more…